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It claimed that America had a destiny, manifest, i. Coming later to the venture, the British and especially the New England Puritans carried with them a demanding sense of Providential purpose.


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John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, gave the clearest and most far-reaching statement of the idea that God had charged the English settlers in New England with a special and unique Providential mission. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities for the supply of others necessities. Leading preachers of the Second Great Awakening that swept across the United States over much of the first half of the nineteenth century, such as Lyman Beecher father of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher and Charles Grandison Finney, reasserted the claim that America would be the site of the millennium and that the Awakening was its sure sign.

They, however, gave their idea of the millennium a particular American twist. But if it is by the march of revolution and civil liberty, that the way of the Lord is to be prepared, where shall the central energy be found, and from what nation shall the renovating power go forth?

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At the same time, it makes the nation, itself, an instrument in the coming of the millennium. It was the Mormons , however, who gave the fullest expression to the idea of America as the site of the millennium.

Manifest Destiny | Boundless US History

The idea that God had chosen the British colonies for a special destiny received a major reformulation with the American Revolution and the establishment of the United States as a new and unique, independent nation, a Novus Ordo Seclorum —a new secular order. The clergy, especially the Calvinistic New England clergy, was very much a Patriot clergy that probably played a greater role in mobilizing support for the revolution than the innumerable anti-British pamphlets produced between and Americans did not consider their new nation to be simply another nation among nations, but a providentially blessed entity charged to develop and maintain itself as the beacon of liberty and democracy to the world.

As is well known, not only was the United States remarkably diverse religiously, its new Constitution, with the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, also established a clear separation of church and state, expressly forbidding the institution of an established Church. It was formally a secular nation—though at the same time a deeply religious society—sustained by Divine will, whose citizens were expected to subscribe to its founding principals with religious like devotion. Quickly were the revolutionary leaders, especially George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, elevated into Founding Fathers, and the Declaration and Constitution turned into almost sacred relics.

Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion

Thus the apparently secularized expressions [of these phrases] have a deeper resonance which locates the origins of the American mission very precisely even when they are not explicitly elaborated. It is also the constellation of ideas that has informed American nationalism and its actions at home and abroad to this day. As noted, it was explicitly used it to justify the Spanish American War and its accompanying imperialist goals. The sense of American uniqueness and mission also underlay John F.


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And President George W. Not surprisingly, however, it remained for Abraham Lincoln to provide the most complex but nonetheless clear statement of the idea that America has a sacred duty to itself and to the world to preserve and protect liberty and democracy. In , as a young man of 28, Lincoln gave an address to the Springfield, Illinois Lyceum.

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It was a time of great social and political turmoil. Illinois was riven with violence over the question of the abolition of slavery. In Alton, Illinois an anti-abolitionist mob recently had murdered the abolitionist editor, Elijah Lovejoy, destroyed his printing press and burned his office and house. In this atmosphere of intense political strife, Lincoln used his Lyceum address to call his fellow Illinoisans and Americans to turn to the basic democratic and liberal tenets the American national creed—the American Civil Religion—and embrace them and hold them as deeply as they held their private religious beliefs.

Only such a common national faith, he argued, could provide the real and lasting foundation that would hold the sprawling, diverse, and conflict-ridden nation together.

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During the Civil War Lincoln found these beliefs sharply challenged and at the same time gave them their most eloquent and powerful expression. Lincoln had always kept his questing and often skeptical spirituality closely guarded, but as the war ground relentlessly on, his beliefs and speeches took on not a sectarian but a deeply Old Testament tone.

In his brief second inaugural address, delivered only six weeks before his assassination, Lincoln explored the relationship between American freedom and Divine Will. He knew that nations often, if not always, claimed God or the Gods for their side. At first glance, it may seem rather difficult to engage students in a discussion of religion and Manifest Destiny.

Teaching strategies will obviously depend on the particular composition of your classes. Months Past.

Manifest Destiny. Polk ended with the battle cry of Manifest Destiny: It is to the enterprise and perseverance of the hardy pioneers of the West, who penetrate the wilderness with their families, suffer the dangers, the privations, and hardships attending the settlement of a new country Related Articles.

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